New evidence says oil industry does not need biofuels to meet CO2 fuel target
A powerful new report suggest oil companies could achieve the EU’s wish for a 10% reduction in carbon dioxide from fuel production without using biofuels. T&E has spoken out to counter claims by the oil industry that it can do nothing to tackle CO2 from fuel other than through the Emissions Trading Scheme.
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‘Extracting the Truth: Oil industry efforts to undermine the Fuel Quality Directive’ is a new report by Friends of the Earth, which uses the industry’s own data to show how companies are falsely claiming that the 10% target proposed in revisions to the fuel quality directive is unachievable. In a statement last month by its new secretary-general Isabelle Muller, the oil industry lobby group Europia said it considered the 10% target ‘not only infeasible but also inconsistent and overlapping with two other directives under review’. It added: ‘Europia is convinced that reducing the greenhouse gas content of road transport fuels by 2020 can only be achieved trough the ETS and the use of renewable components. Europia supports the ETS and strongly believes it should remain the sole means of managing greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuels.’ Despite this support for the ETS, the Dutch oil company Shell, one of Europia’s leading members, has said ending free credits in the ETS would ‘destroy’ aspects of the oil industry and could cause refineries to leave Europe and set up elsewhere. REDUCE FLARING So far, the debate on the proposed 10% cut in CO2 emissions has been dominated by biofuel sustainability criteria, but the FoE report suggests this could be a distraction. It says fuel producers could reduce emissions by ‘at least 10%’ by reducing gas flaring and venting, improving energy efficiency, and using alternative fuels at refineries. In a letter to the Financial Times newspaper, T&E’s director Jos Dings said: ‘Europia’s argument that biofuels are “the only option to reduce greenhouse gas emissions of road transport fuels” implies that oil production is already squeaky green. Apparently (and worryingly) the oil majors have never heard of reducing flaring, improving refinery efficiency or cutting back tar sand oil production which is three times more carbon-intensive than conventional oil production. ‘For several years the oil industry has been trying to convince the world it is tserious about going green – “beyond petroleum”, as one company famously put it in a multi-million dollar marketing campaign. The sad reality is that they are up to all their old tricks.’ Two of the biggest oil giants, Shell and BP, last month reported combined quarterly profits of $14.4 billion.